CowParade San Luis Obispo County raised over a quarter million dollars for charity, the organizers announced.
The public art and charity event, held from September 2016 through May 2017, raised $250,653 for more than 40 local nonprofits, “making the campaign an enormous success as both a cultural milestone and a public service,” according to a news release.
CowParade SLO County started with 101 plain white fiberglass cow sculptures. Each was adopted by a sponsoring business or agency and decorated by an artist or team of artists using everything from simple paints to mosaics and even a few complete reconstructions of the original sculpture (going from four legs to standing on two legs).
Indeed each and every cow was truly unique and they were on public display throughout SLO County for some 10 months. The cows were all brought together twice, first after the initial work was done, and then again at the end for an auction.
Several cows were auctioned off live at Oyster Ridge at Ancient Peak in Santa Margarita, and others were sold online, where the majority of the money was raised.
Cow Parades are a trademarked art project that has also been done in U.S. cities like Boston, Denver, New York and Houston, and foreign countries like England, Brazil, France (Paris) and Italy (Rome).
Local dairy farmer, Alan Vander Horst, applied for a CowParade in San Luis Obispo County after seeing the first one in 1999 in Chicago, Ill.
“My wife, Rebecca, and I were so impressed with CowParade, we wanted others to experience it as well,” said Vander Horst, a Cal Poly graduate and third-generation dairy farmer. “And, of course, we love cattle. While San Luis Obispo County is smaller than most CowParade cities, we knew it would do well here because this great community does so much to support art, and it has such a rich agricultural history.”
“Jesse/Jane” cow, sponsored by Barnett Cox & Associates and created by artist, Dennis Bredow, garnered the highest bid in SLO County selling for $45,000, and supporting the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center.
The three main charities that benefitted form the event were the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, ARTS Obispo and the California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation. Cow sponsors were free to choose the charity they wished to benefit. Though they were all initially on public display, several of them remain in highly visible public places, for example the “Cowbear,” is on display near the 2nd Street Pier in Baywood Park.